Movement Profile for football: “The goal is to more specifically manage the load to keep players on the pitch”

1st October 2020

In September, we introduced our newest innovation and the next benchmark for workload monitoring on the pitch: Movement Profile for football.

The media stories showcasing the work of beta users have continued to spread, led by a fantastic piece in Yahoo! Sports titled “Inside Leicester City’s cutting-edge plan to avoid injury amid this season’s fixture blizzard”.

Head of Performance Innovation at the club, Paul Balsom, was the catalyst for our data science team to start engineering the new football-specific metrics.

“There are a lot of dynamic movements during a football game that happens at a low speed, but at a high metabolic cost and high mechanical load,” Balsom told Yahoo! Sports. “It was these movements that we wanted to get some sort of measure on.”

Balsom, who also serves as the performance manager for Sweden’s men’s national team, had been trying to figure out how to do that for more than 30 years, ever since he was a graduate student at Springfield College in Massachusetts. So a few years ago, he approached Catapult.

Eventually, Balsom and Catapult identified six specific maneuvers players make in a typical match. Categorising those movements gave players a better idea of when they might be putting too much stress on particular muscles or muscle groups. It allowed managers to design training sessions with injury prevention in mind.

“The goal is to more specifically manage the load to keep players on the pitch,” Balsom said. “Football will never be a science. Some players want to train a little bit more or less. But I think we can start building a framework to say what’s too much or not enough and give them some sort of freedom within that framework.”

Paul Balsom told Sports Business Journal that from the millions of data points being collected by the wearable technology, he and his staff can describe in greater detail “the mechanical load that we’re putting on a player.” Balsom explained that specificity of training for each player is another key area of emphasis with Catapult.

“How specific is my training for this one player compared to what he or she is doing during the game? We can now say, ‘OK, this is the type of running he or she is doing in a game. How are we replicating that during our training session? … Also, how specific is the work we’re doing to prepare players to return to play?'”

Balsom continues in an interview with i News about how the simplicity of the Movement profile is critical in getting through to his players and that the most successful model of an effective club places “football in the middle” with everything else working around the outside: the manager, coaches, players, sports science, medical. It is crucial for him that the players are involved and that the messages are simple to understand.

And it’s not just the physical performance that impacts results, Balsom told Daily Mail. ‘You’ve got the pace of the game, the contact injuries, the mental load as well. There is a huge mental stress on our players these days. One wrong decision can cost you a game.’

Movement Profile is available for existing Catapult Vector users as a free upgrade. Simply click here to learn more.